How do the scores work?

Everyone knows about wine scores right? Maybe you’ve seen them in reviews or at the bottle shop, or maybe you’ve had a wine-loving friend whose poured you a glass from their very special bottle and said “here, try this, it got 95 points”. That’s fine, and the points system has its merits, but it’s also an unnecessarily complex way of communicating a wine’s value to anyone that isn’t a hardcore wine enthusiast.

I’ve decided to go with something different. The way I see it, every bottle of wine comes with a built-in score: its price. Someone somewhere has decided this wine is worth $20, while another is worth $10. My job is to tell you whether they have got it right or not. See the graphic below for more details.

The key thing to remember is that the scores are relative to the prices charged, meaning a three out of five review for a $5 wine is not the same as a three out of five review for a $50 wine. The bar is set much higher for the latter.

How do I decide what’s good value and what isn’t? First, I evaluate the wine on its own terms, assessing the nose and palate. I’m mainly looking to find out whether the wine’s various components – tannins, acidity, alcohol etc are in balance or does one overwhelm the others. Is it too sweet, with little acidity to back it up? Perhaps it’s too dry, with not enough fruit power to make it enjoyable to drink?  Once I’ve assessed that, I compare the wine to others in the market, which is easy enough to do when you taste as much wine as I do. Throughout all of this, I strive to be as objective as possible and to put my own personal preferences to one side.

Of course, this system isn’t perfect. No system is, and ultimately wine tasting comes down to individual opinions, otherwise every critic would give the same score every time. But I believe this is the best way of telling you what you need to know: is this wine worth buying at this price. You’ll almost certainly disagree with some of my reviews, but hopefully you will at least know that my opinion has been delivered thoughtfully and fairly.

Here are the ratings and what they mean:

wineowlPoor Value
wineowl Overpriced
wineowl Fairly Priced
wineowl wineowl wineowl wineowlGood Value
wineowl wineowl wineowl wineowl wineowlOutstanding Value